I am a current PhD student under the supervision of Professor Craig Franklin and Dr Rebecca Cramp. I graduated from The University of Queensland with a Bachelor of Science majoring in Zoology in 2015. I went on to complete Class 1 Honours in the Franklin Eco-Lab in 2016, investigating the interactive effects of UVB radiation and temperature on immune function and disease susceptibility of striped marsh frog larvae. I was born in Denmark, and have been fascinated by animals ever since I moved out to Australia in 2004. My passion for nature and its conservation stemmed from the documentaries of Steve Irwin that I used to watch growing up. My mind has always been captured by the impact that humans are having on the environment and biodiversity in such a short time, and the consequences that this will have on human well-being going into the future.

I am excited to pursue my interests in ecophysiology and conservation through my current PhD project over the next three years, which largely follows on from the work I did during Honours. Additionally, I am a current University of Queensland Global Change Scholar, which exposes me to global challenges and the tools to develop solutions. It is my desire to end up in a career where I can help to protect the environment and biodiversity, thereby improving human lives in coming generations. 

Research interests

My research interests lie in the fields of ecophysiology and conservation physiology. More specifically, I am trying to understand the causes behind global enigmatic declines in amphibians. The chytrid fungus (Batrachochytrium dendrobatidis or Bd) is an emerging infectious fungus that is responsible for catastrophic losses in amphibians globally. The temporal and spatial patterns of infection indicate that climatic factors and environmental stressors are likely implicated in disease spread. In particular, global climate changes in temperature and ultraviolet-B (UVB) radiation may be affecting the host-pathogen relationship, leading to greater rates of infection.

During Honours I investigated the interactive effects of UV-B radiation and temperature on the survival, morphology, and immune function of striped marsh frog (Limnodynastes peronii) tadpoles. It was clear from my work that low temperatures enhanced the negative effects of UVB radiation on growth, survival and immune function. This might help to explain why the chytrid fungus is more lethal at high altitudes, because UVB levels tend to be higher, and temperatures lower, at high altitude.

From my experiments in Honours, I came to the realisation that I could increase the UVB dose I administered by manipulating either the UVB intensity (i.e. number of light fittings), or the duration that I exposed larvae for each day. I wondered if the physiological outcomes of exposure to a given dose would differ depending on what intensity/duration I administered it over, which inspired my current PhD project. For my PhD I am investigating the consequences of ultraviolet-B exposure regime (intensity vs. duration) and timing of exposure during development on physiological carryover effects in amphibians. This work is critical for determining how changes in peak UVB events occurring with climate change might affect amphibian physiology. Furthermore, this research will help us to understand how environmental factors that shape UVB exposure in the field (e.g. canopy cover, cloud cover and dissolved organic matter concentrations ion water) might affect amphibian distributions into the future, helping us to understand regional scale effects of UVB radiation. Importantly, the timing of exposure throughout larval development may influence the frequency of intensity of physiological effects that carry over into post-metamorphic frogs, including susceptibility to pathogens such as Bd. Knowledge from this PhD will improve our mechanistic understanding of the effects of acute UVB exposure regimes on developing amphibians, and ultimately contributes to the body of knowledge needed for effective conservation measures to be taken.

Awards & achievements

  • 2018-Current - UQ Global Change Scholar
  • 2017 - Research Training Program (RTP) Scholarship (PhD)
  • 2016 - Honours Class 1 
  • 2016 - Dean's Commendation for Academic Excellence
  • 2015 - Dean’s Commendation for Academic Excellence
  • 2015 - Jiro Kikkawa Ecology Prize 2014
  • 2014 - Dean’s Commendation for Academic Excellence 

Publications

  • Lundsgaard N.U., R.L. Cramp, and C.E. Franklin. [in preparation] Effects of ultraviolet-B radiation are dependent on temperature: implications for amphibian declines. Conservation Physiology.

Presentations

  • July 2018 - ISN Herpetology satellite symposium, Brisbane, Australia
  • February 2018 - Biological Sciences postgraduate Conference, The University of Queensland
  • December 2016 - ANZSCPB 33rd Annual Meeting, Western Sydney University

Mentions in the media

  • September 2016 - TV talent on Scope, Network Ten, Brisbane

Personal interests

  • Spending time with my friends and family
  • Camping
  • Soccer
  • Vlogging on YouTube